Red Robin, our producer and industry insider, on the interesting changes in disease control over the last 20 years
So we find ourselves at the end of another harvest – I don’t know where the time goes. We have had the best yields we have ever had this year and our grain store is full to the rafters.
The downside is that the price is so low with no prospect of it going up and although this is great for pig-only businesses, for us it is different. It costs us broadly the same to grow it regardless of the end price achieved and so we would like a high price at which to sell our surplus.
I wonder whether storing until next spring is the right thing to do but at the same time it seems silly to sell it now at a price which is definitely below the cost of production.
The most disappointing thing is the complete lack of movement in the pig price. I hear that 38% of the Chinese pig population has been culled and you would have thought that that would have had a major impact on our price, but it seems not.
We have had a bit of a look at Stable, a company which, as I understand it, allows you to insure your final selling price of pigs. We had a look at it a couple of months ago and thought it was not going to be necessary because the price was going to rise sharply. With the price now floating around the 152p mark, I think we may have another look.
Meanwhile, the Government seems to think it likely we will see an ASF outbreak within a year. It seems madness that, as an island, we can’t keep it out. I only hope that they can react quickly enough to contain it.
I heard recently about an encounter with Trading Standards that didn’t fill me with confidence about the speed of any response.
A pig that, although perfectly OK when it was loaded, was lame by the time it was unloaded at the abattoir – a supposedly serious issue for Trading Standards, but it took them two months to investigate it. I can only hope that the dummy runs for notifiable disease outbreaks have paid off.
It seems like it is all doom and gloom, but it isn’t really like that. We are delighted with our bumper harvest and pleased that the pig price is heading in the right direction.
We are looking forward to having pigs back for the freezer in a couple of weeks. A ginger gilt ‘accidentally’ ended up being kept back for breeding – her offspring are three- quarters Duroc so we thought we might as well see what they are like.
While I don’t encourage the team to keep pigs for breeding based on looks alone, it has been a bit of fun. The slightly worrying thing is that she is coming round a second time and her colour has conveniently faded so I can’t spot her so easily.
I shall have to keep an eye on her performance – if I can persuade them to tell me what her number is!